Back on Nov. 23, all appeared lost for the 2015-16 Southern Miss basketball season.
The Golden Eagles suffered an embarrassing 84-78 loss to crosstown NAIA program William Carey that night at Reed Green Coliseum. After the game, many questioned whether the Golden Eagles would win a game against a Div. 1 opponent this season.
Even before the season began, there was the assumption that this year would be a long one for the Golden Eagles.
Two of the team's better returning players, senior forward Norville Carey and sophomore guard Kevin Holland, are sitting out this season and will receive redshirts.
Just before the season tipped off, USM announced it would self-impose a postseason ban for the second consecutive season due to the NCAA's allegations of major rules violations under former coach Donnie Tyndall at USM from 2012-14.
Tyndall and USM officials are supposed to go before the NCAA on Thursday for a chance to respond to those allegations, according to CBSsports.com.
To sum it all up, the Eagles started the season a couple of men down and little to play for.
Two months after hitting a low point against William Carey, there is suddenly hope where there appeared to be none.
While there's no mistaking USM for a team in the hunt for a Conference USA regular season title, it has surprisingly proven to be competitive in conference competition.
The Golden Eagles (5-11, 2-3) have beaten Old Dominion and FIU, two of the better conference teams it has played thus far, to sit at 2-3 in C-USA headed into Saturday's 7 p.m. home game against Louisiana Tech.
The only game where USM has been overwhelmed against conference competition came in the 87-57 loss at La. Tech in the C-USA opener.
USM's two other C-USA losses to Charlotte and FAU were by a combined 13 points and could have easily swung the other direction, and probably should have.
Second-year USM head coach Doc Sadler and crew begin a three-game homestand against Tech Saturday with UTEP and UTSA to follow next week.
While beating Louisiana Tech is a tall order Saturday, USM has a shot to even its conference record over the next three games if it plays to the potential it showed against ODU and FIU.
Sadler deserves a great deal of credit for getting the team to play well in far from ideal conditions. He did the exact same thing last year when he was having a hard time keeping five players on the court.
This season, Sadler has a rotation of about 9-10 players who are contributing each night.
One of those players, senior forward Michael O'Donnell, has missed the last three games with an unspecified injury. His status for Saturday's game is uncertain.
USM has had several players step up and have nice games this season, but it's at its best when junior point guard Khari Price and senior guard Kourtlin Jackson produce on the offensive end.
If you ignore the fact that Jackson went scoreless in the 58-51 loss at Florida Atlantic last week, the Iowa State transfer is averaging 16.5 points a game against conference opponents.
Price, a Dayton transfer, is the man who makes the offense work, but he's been allowed to get the occasional break thanks to improved play from a pair of freshmen point guards, Robert Thomas and Cortez Edwards.
Thomas, who is hitting 43.5 percent of his 3-pointers, provided nine points, four assists and three rebounds in 19 minutes to help the Eagles top FIU, 66-60, Saturday.
Another freshman, 6-foot-11 forward Tim Rowe, scored 20 points and grabbed five rebounds in the loss to FAU.
USM's best post player, sophomore Eddie Davis, is lost for the season with a broken foot, meaning it's on Rowe, O'Donnell and Raheem Watts to carry the load the rest of the way.
Southern Miss will the court at a disadvantage against pretty much every night the rest of the way, but Sadler's squad has shown it can never be counted out.
Contact Patrick Magee at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at Patrick_Magee.